United Sugars is the second largest sugar supplier in the country — supplying approximately one fourth of the total U.S. demand. With that kind of volume, it is especially critical to prevent waste and control costs.

The Business Challenge

Sugar producers have been challenged with sugar hardening due to environmental conditions. While hardening does not affect the quality of the product, it does impact its marketability. At United Sugars, such sugar was typically returned and resold at a discount to non-food companies. Reprocessing usually involved a costly and labor-intensive process of manually de-bagging pallets of packaged sugar. United Sugars worked with Saddle Creek to find a more effective solution.

The Solution

Saddle Creek helped United Sugars to automate reprocessing of the sugar. Together, the companies invested in equipment to reprocess the hardened sugar more efficiently. Nicknamed the “Product Saver,” the machine is installed at Saddle Creek’s Lakeland, FL, facility. Saddle Creek now helps United Sugars to recoup about 60 pallets per day—10 times faster than the manual process. The sugar is then packaged into 2,400-pound supersacks for reprocessing into liquid sugar.

The Results

Automating the process has resulted in a labor savings of approximately $500,000 over the past two years, while minimizing the loss of the product and materials. “Saddle Creek has helped us to reprocess sugar more quickly at a much lower cost,” says Raymond Smith, vice president, quality—warehousing, at United Sugars. “That’s just one example of how they’ve partnered with us to solve logistics challenges over the years.”

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